Honours even in opener between Great Britain and Belgium

Alastair Brogdon in action v Belgium 480 x 290

Great Britain 2 (1)
Barry Middleton 23 (PC)
Alastair Brogdon 32 (FG)

Belgium 2 (1)
John-John Dohmen 19 (FG)
Sebastien Dockier 48 (PC)

Great Britain got their World League Semi-Final campaign off and running with a hard-fought point against hosts Belgium in their opening match. The Red Lions took the lead through captain John-John Dohmen but his strike was cancelled out by Barry Middleton’s penalty corner goal four minutes later. Alastair Brogdon gave GB the lead at the start of the second half, but they were unable to hold on and Sebastien Dockier equalised with 12 minutes remaining, ensuring the points were shared.

In front of a partisan home crowd Belgium forced an early penalty corner. Felix Denayer’s effort was saved by George Pinner who reacted brilliantly to keep out the follow up from Florent Van Aubel. The Belgian No8 almost opened the scoring moments later, somehow intercepting Michael Hoare’s aerial pass and thumping the ball into the pads of the onrushing Pinner. Great Britain appeared tentative but Ashley Jackson grew in influence as the quarter wore on. Chris Griffiths had the first attempt on goal when his shot was blocked by Vincent Vanasch at the near post. With both sides keen not to concede first it was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Belgium took the lead in the second quarter. Simon Gougnard took a quick free hit and fired the ball in for John-John Dohmen to apply the finish with a deft deflection giving Pinner no chance. Gougnard was shown a yellow card with 22 minutes on the clock and a minute later Belgium were punished when Great Britain won a penalty corner thanks to some good work from David Condon. Ashley Jackson recognised he didn’t have a clear shot, so beat the runner with a body swerve before teeing up Nick Catlin. Although Catlin’s effort was saved, Iain Lewers played the rebound across for Barry Middleton to stab home. Belgium responded and forced another penalty corner but Mark Gleghorne was out quickly to deflect the ball wide of the post.

Within two minutes of the restart Bobby Crutchley’s side got their noses in front. A lovely run from Alastair Brogdon down the left side caused Belgium problems and the Wimbledon man slotted the ball past Vanasch from a tight angle to silence the home crowd. Van Aubel had a gilt-edged opportunity to level the scores after some excellent approach play from Jerome Truyens but his shot flew wide of the target from near the penalty spot and the lead was intact going into the final quarter.

A strong run from Lewers forced a penalty corner in the opening minute of the final quarter but Truyens charged out to deflect the shot away. Belgium hit back and won a penalty corner which was upheld despite Great Britain’s referral. Pinner saved the first effort from Loick Luypaert but the ball fell loose to Dockier who forced in the rebound to level it up. Great Britain pushed Belgium back in the final five minutes, stepping higher in search of the winning goal but The Red Lions were able to hold them off and the spoils were shared.

Quotes – Great Britain Forward – Alastair Brogdon

It’s always a tough game against Belgium and today showed that. We went a goal down and managed to get back to 2-1 but they’ve got a lot of fight and levelled it up. We knew coming in it would be tough but we’re up and running now and we’re looking forward to the next match.

It’s always nice to get on the scoreboard but ultimately we wanted to get the win. I’d have liked to get another late on to give us the points.

It’s a fantastic atmosphere here. It was hard to communicate with your teammates some times because of the noise but this is the sort of atmosphere you play sport for.

Great Britain Head Coach – Bobby Crutchley

It was a typical game against Belgium. I thought we were cagey in the first quarter but then came into it more in the second quarter and had some good chances. I was pleased with Alastair Brogdon’s goal. It shows we have players with flair in the team who can create chances for us. Obviously we wanted to get the win but overall I’m satisfied with the performance for a first game of the tournament.

Don't forget you can see Belgium and Bobby Crutchley's England side in action this summer as World Class international hockey returns to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015. Details are available on the tournament website.